Project: HARTLEY BAY SMART MICROGRID/HESQUIHAT METERING SYSTEM
Project Date: 2008 –2013
Clients: Hartley Bay, NR CAN – CANMET ENERGY, Pulse Energy Inc.
An innovative smart microgrid was introduced to the First Nations village of Hartley Bay with the goal of helping achieve the Gitga’at First Nations Energy Vision: To be the greenest First Nations community in Canada. This energy vision was achieved by the Hedgehog Technologies team who architected and installed a smart micro-grid and energy-efficient system. This system, by Hedgehog (sub-contracted by Pulse Energy), was the first complete islanded smart micro-grid in British Columbia.
Of the 292 remote communities in Canada, many of them rely on diesel generators for electrical power, heating and transportation. They subsequently have high costs of electricity and a significant carbon footprint per capita (up to five to ten times compared to the main electrical utilities that supply North America). Diesel generators are simple devices with a long history of reliability but their efficiency remains low ranging from 34% to as low as 19%. This low efficiency means the rest of the fuel consumed goes up in smoke and creates greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Take for example, a simple community that uses an average of 1 MW of power every day. That would mean that another 2 MW of heat and noise are being sent to the sky out the exhaust pipe.
There is a strong need to improve the system efficiency and reduce GHG production by means of improving the efficiency and using other non carbon-based energy sources. As a pilot, a new way of intelligent energy management was introduced to the First Nation village of Hartley Bay with the goal of helping achieve the Gitga’at First Nations energy vision: To be the greenest First Nations community in Canada. This energy vision was achieved by the Hedgehog Technologies team who architected and installed a smart micro-grid monitoring and control system. This system, by Hedgehog (sub-contracted by Pulse Energy), was the first complete island smart microgrid in British Columbia.
The Village of Hartley Bay, located approximately 650 km Northwest of Vancouver, BC, is a remote, off-grid coastal community in the Gitga’at Nation. The community is home to 200 residents living in 82 buildings, of which 62 are residential and 20 are commercial/mixed‐use. There are three generators supplying the electricity to Hartley Bay: two 420 kW and one 210 kW. The system consists of a 600 V bus at the generators which is stepped up to 25 kV for distribution (approximately 2 km of lines) and stepped down to 120/240/208 V for residential and commercial single and three phase loads with 25 kVA and 50 KVA transformers.
The community historically used up to 2 GWh of electric energy annually at a levelized cost of approx. $0.67 per kWh. The current generation setup had cost the band upwards of $500,000 per year. The community is now operating a smart microgrid system and is interested in finding additional, innovative ways to improve the efficiency of the generation system that will in turn reduce the community’s electrical demand, energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and costs.
The project was started in 2008 and was completed in 2013. It was funded by National Research Canada – CANMET Energy and Pulse Energy Inc. The overall goal of the project was to create a community energy efficiency and demand management strategy. This was achieved by taking a four step process: Plan, Do, Measure, and Act.
After an initial plan to develop the smart microgrid was established, energy, voltage and power measuring devices were installed on 100% of all major electrical loads (homes, commercial facilities, docks, lighting) along with fuel flow meters on the generators for real time feedback to the central control and monitoring system. This system was initially run for several months to measure and verify the data was correct and to build a framework for how to improve the overall efficiency. Building and community energy models were then created to better understand the system and to project the impact of various changes to the energy system.
The models indicated that the generator system was often operating in an inefficient state and could be improved with better demand management. This was achieved three ways. First, the Pulse Energy advanced monitoring system was installed with a demand response control on all hot water heaters and thermostats in the community to achieve the most efficient operating state for the community. Second, energy awareness was promoted throughout the community. Lastly, locals were trained in energy efficiency, how the control system worked and how to improve energy usage in the community.
The result of this three-pronged approach was that the community effectively reduced energy usage by 15% annually and were able to identify abnormalities and locate inefficiencies in the system. Furthermore the system allowed for future renewable energy planning and projection.
For more information about microgrids and the project:
Demand Response Implementation for Remote Communities
Natural Resources Canada: The First Canadian Smart Remote Microgrid
From Pulse Energy: Achieving community-wide savings
Presentation: Alternative Energy for BC First Nations Gathering